Self-driving cars prompt review of car insurance rules

With self-driving cars right around the corner for Australia, insurers have thrown their support behind a plan to overhaul traffic rules and car insurance cover to redefine what constitutes a “driver”, reported The Australian.

Fully self-driving cars are expected to hit Aussie roads as early as 2020, and partially autonomous cars are even closer to being available. On-road trials for automated cars have already begun earlier this year in South Australia.

But as this technology advances in leaps and bounds, road rules and car insurance are in danger of being left behind.

The National Transport Council warned that accidents involving driverless cars, trucks and buses may not be covered by current compulsory third-party insurance policies. It was uncertain whether existing insurance policies would apply to incidents involving automated vehicles if the driver couldn’t be identified.

“Priority should be given to ensuring eligibility for compulsory third-party and national injury insurance schemes is not unintentionally restricted by current definitions of ‘driver’ and ‘driving’ in those schemes,” said a NTC policy paper.

To ensure that people involved in accidents with self-driving cars are kept safe and not at a disadvantage when making insurance claims, a reform and clarification of the legal definitions of “driving” and “driver” will likely be needed.

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The Insurance Council of Australia has offered to support reviews around driverless vehicle technology and what it might mean for the future of car insurance policies.

General Manager of Communications & Media Relations with the Insurance Council, Campbell Fuller, said although insurers were in favour of driverless cars, they wanted to clarify the issues of responsibility and liability in case of accident and injury.

While driverless cars and the reforms that will come with them are not far away, in the meantime, Aussies can keep their wheels and themselves safe on the road with a comprehensive car insurance policy. You can find and compare some of the best car insurance deals at Mozo’s car insurance hub.